Dragons coach fears star's career is over
ST George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor says Jack de Belin's NRL career will be over if he fails in his legal bid to be reinstated.
The Dragons and NSW lock is suing the NRL and ARL Commission in the Federal Court after he became the first player hit with the game's "no fault" stand down policy.
The case concluded on Thursday and Justice Melissa Perry is expected to hand down her judgment in the next fortnight.
Part of de Belin's case hinged on the argument it would cause untold damage to his career.
De Belin was stood down after he was charged with aggravated sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
De Belin's lawyers have argued that his criminal case might not conclude before the end of the 2020 NRL season, when he comes off-contract.
And if unsuccessful, McGregor said the 28-year-old would be unlikely to salvage his career if he were to be made to sit out the rest of his contract.
"Jack is at an age now if he's not to play for two years his career is over," McGregor said.
The court heard that had de Belin played this year and maintained his place in the NSW side, he would have received $90,000 in State of Origin match payments and $30,000 as a club representative bonus.
The NRL has justified the hardline policy by saying that supporters and sponsors would have been driven away from the game if they did not move to address player behaviour.
Melbourne chairman Bart Campbell on Thursday told the court that the game's "summer from hell" had forced his club to accept a major sponsorship agreement $500,000 below market value.
And that at the height of the code's scandal-plagued off-season that potential sponsors had told them it was too risky to be involved with rugby league.
However de Belin and the Dragons have maintained his innocence and that it was unfair to stand him down without evidence of purported misconduct.
"He's very strong and he gets his strength from his innocence," McGregor said.
"He's very strong about that.
"He knows what he needs to go through to getting back to playing."